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The Cambridges

William and Kate begin Orkney trip with hospital opening and pay a visit to a local family

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge paid their first trip to Scotland’s Orkney Islands today, kicking off a day full of engagements by opening a hospital in its largest city, Kirkwall.

The couple, who are touring Scotland this week, arrived in Orkney by helicopter after departing the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. They were greeted by Scottish pipers and drummers before touring Balfour Hospital, which opened in 2019 and replaced the former hospital that had served the community for 90 years.

After viewing the new facility they met with a number of NHS staff to hear their stories about working in Kirkwall.

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According to the Royal Family, the new hospital “has enabled the repatriation of many NHS services from the Scottish mainland, allowing Orkney’s population to receive most of their healthcare at home.”

Located at the northeastern tip of Britain, Orkney is comprised of more than 70 islands, many of which are uninhabited. These remote islands are home to thousands of years of rich history, and Balfour Hospital’s circular design reflects a nearby 5,000-year-old Neolithic settlement called Skara Brae, and other historical sites in the area which are built in circles.

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To end their visit the Duchess of Cambridge pulled back a pair of curtains to enthusiastic applauase, revealing a plaque formally opening the hospital.

Following the hospital opening, William and Catherine visited a private home in Kirkwall, sharing a photo in the Bichan family’s garden. “It was great to chat about life in Orkney, and to learn more about the challenges of the past year,” the Cambridges tweeted.

The Orkney visit follows a day of engagements the couple had in North Lanarkshire and Edinburgh on Monday, when they where they visited charity Turning Point, tried out DJing with anti-violence organisation VRU, and cooked with women from the Sikh community in the kitchen at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Prince William arrived in Scotland last Friday, carrying out a series of solo visits, and the couple will wrap up their mini-tour of Scotland on Thursday.

About author

Kristin is Chief Reporter for Royal Central and has been following the British royal family for more than 30 years. Kristin has appeared in UK and U.S. media outlets discussing the British royals including BBC Breakfast, BBC World News, Sky News, the Associated Press, TIME, The Washington Post, and many others.